Syria is worse for non-intervention. What does that say?

The reality on the ground in Syria is that the situation has deteriorated heavily precisely because we haven’t intervened

An all-too-familiar scene in Syria
Saba Farzan
On 30 April 2013 09:12

For European supporters of strong American leadership, the past four years with Barack Obama as US President have been frustrating. And more frustration may yet lie ahead of us.

President Obama’s reaction this week to the potential use of chemical weapons by the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was telling. Obama made a grave strategic error in downplaying this potential war crime and, with that, undermined his own red line set. But what is even more worrying is that the wrong red lines altogether have been drawn vis-à-vis Syria.

What the US and the world community neglect is the tragic fact that genocide is occurring in Syria without the use of chemical arms. The butcher Assad is getting away with massacring his own people in front of the world’s eyes and nobody has yet found the political courage to stop him. Syria has been drowning in the blood of its innocent civilians, in grief and desperation, and the country lies in pieces.

It’ll take decades for this Middle Eastern country to recover from this human tragedy – if it ever can. And there is more tragic news still: Assad’s potential use of Sarin is just the beginning of more horrific war crimes to come. Our global inaction to this week’s shocking news is an invitation to this butcher to go even further in his brutality. If Assad continues that path it will mean that the rebels lose any realistic chance of ousting his tyranny and he will continue to stay in power for a very long time.  

And what does this leave us? An Assad dictatorship allied with Iranian criminals within touching distance of nuclear weapons. Put another way: a nightmare scenario.

Military intervention by the US and its allies is the only way out. Ideally a NATO coalition would impose a no-fly-zone accompanied by a targeted military campaign to once and for all finish Assad’s reign and fight Islamist rebels. A militarily superior coalition can end this genocide and prevent further crimes.

Of course, there’s a much talked about Russian-sized obstacle potentially blocking this route: the Putin regime has signaled time and again that it will obstruct any significant action within the United Nations. But the only conclusion to draw from this is that the US and Europe are wasting treasured time with the UN. Put simply, if Russia has no difficulty offending our sensibilities towards human rights abuses by holding its protecting hand over the Assad regime, why should we be afraid to offend Russia with unilateral action?

The reality on the ground in Syria is that the situation has deteriorated heavily precisely because we haven’t intervened. Islamists have infiltrated this secular uprising and this conflict has put the fragile stability of the region in grand jeopardy. Arming the Syrian opposition is not an option and it is our responsibility to move ahead immediately with bold political and military action.

There is a certain irony in saying that Europe must press Obama for strong leadership. But the free world must act decisively and hope that one day we can look at ourselves in the mirror again. We have failed utterly thus far in securing our own national interests and protecting innocent Syrians from this vile ongoing tragedy. We must act to ensure that we change that reality.

Saba Farzan is a German-Iranian journalist. Her articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal Europe, Standpoint Magazine, The Australian, and Huffington Post Canada

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